GIVEAWAY + Hunter Valley Food and Wine Festival

Whispering 1

Here in Adelaide we’re in recovery from the McLaren Vale Sea and Vines Festival and making sure we’re well recuperated and match-fit for the Adelaide Hills’ Winter Reds.

We’re totally spoilt for choice. Across the border in NSW the Hunter Valley is busy gearing up for its annual Hunter Valley Food and Wine Festival.

In the Hunter they do things in style. A food and wine festival over a weekend? They see that and raise us one. It’s been on for a whole two months! There have been 70 events across this time and over 150 wineries to check out. And you have just TWO WEEKS left to get yourself a piece of the action as things wrap up at the end of June.

I have quite a soft spot for the Hunter Valley. A loooong time ago, while still a poor uni student, I spent some time in Sydney, babysitting a friend’s apartment and then taking a few days to check out the Hunter Valley. My then boyfriend and I stayed at a hotel in Cessnock (it had cheap Coopers Sparkling!) and, as we had no car, we took a bus tour around the wineries. Even then I had, quite rightly, a ‘thing’ for Semillon.

And Semillon is the grape for which the Hunter is most famous. When young, it is lean and its acidity can be frightening. But with age, it mellows, and develops toasty, honeyed characters backed with bright acidity and great length. Hunter Semillon is not only distinctive and not only one of Australia’s great wines, it’s one of the world’s great wines.

The other grape variety which thrives in the Hunter is Shiraz. But South Australian readers will know we do a pretty decent version of that in the Barossa!

The Hunter Valley is an easy trip out of Sydney, so for anyone on that side of the country – you have plenty of time to plan a trip to make the most of this two month extravaganza. There is a huge range of cooking classes, degustation meals and other food and wine experiences on offer – and many of them are very keenly priced.

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Events you can still head to include a Chocolate and Sea cooking class at Twine Restaurant will set you back $95 – cook confit trout, crispy skin salmon and chocolate fudge cake. OK – you have to cook your lunch but you also get to eat it and enjoy wine too.

You can also learn to cook paella and churros or enjoy an indulgent high tea. For the full event listing check out the Hunter’s regional website.

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Now to the exciting part – which is the giveaway. Which is wine. And, since we’re talking Hunter Valley – it is, naturally, Semillon and Shiraz. The 2011 Littles Homestead Vineyard Reserve Shiraz & the 2016 (that’s right – the latest!) De Iuliis Single Vineyard Semillon.

Just enter via the widget below!

Hunter Valley Competition

Famiglia – La Casa del Formaggio

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Disclaimer – I was sent a review copy of the book Famiglia: Recipes made with Love and Tradition

When we first returned to South Australia I saw lots of La Casa del Formaggio cheeses in the supermarkets but it took me a very long time to figure out that it was actually a South Australian company. I may be the last person in South Australia to realise this but it is – and there is even a factory shop that you can visit in Glynde. I haven’t yet done this but it’s definitely on my to-do list. Because – cheese.

So when I received an invitation to the book launch of the Casa del Formaggio cookbook I was disappointed not to be able to go, but happily I was sent a review copy! Review copies are an excellent way of getting around the supposed household ban on purchasing cookbooks and while we both love cheese, Andy can be a little bit hoo-hum when it comes to Italian food, so Italian cookbooks are especially good because they’re an excuse to cook Italian.

The book is divided into primi, secondi and dolce and while I haven’t cooked any of the dessert recipes yet – they look amazing. Obviously there are recipes for tiramisu and cannoli but how good does rhubarb semifreddo amaretti sandwiches sound? Or four layer chocolate mascarpone cake?

I ended up trying out the pizza recipe. We almost tried the potato, bocconcini and prosciutto cake – until I saw it contained 2kg of potatoes. Our family of three would have been eating it for a week! In fact, a lot of the recipes are geared for massive families. This makes them perfect for entertaining (or if you do indeed have a massive family) but if you have a small family be prepared to do some sums!

In the interest of thoroughness, I even followed the pizza dough recipe. The main difference between this recipe and our usual one is that it includes olive oil along with the water. The resultant dough was very soft and a bit tricky to handle but made a great pizza base. Andy thought that the dough would be really well suited to making a thicker crust pizza – you can see from the photo how much crust we had. I liked it – and thought it looked fab – but the fact that the dough was harder to handle means I’ll probably revert to using my usual recipe next time (after all – I don’t need to look anything up!).

The topping was Italian sausage, bocconcini, thyme and rocket. Proper Italian pizzas are a GREAT reminder NOT to load up on toppings. Keep it simple. The real revelation here was using bocconcini in lieu of your standard big ball of mozzarella. It was soooooo creamy and delicious. OK – you don’t get those big long stretchy strings of cheese but the creamy flavour and texture was something else. From now on, our pizzas will be topped with torn bocconcini.

Rather than tomato paste, the recipe calls for passata (we just happened to have some open). Although it’s a lot looser than tomato paste, I thought that because of the relatively simple topping it worked well. Tomato paste would have dominated the flavours and made everything taste too sweet.

We both really enjoyed the pizza (and – more importantly for a cookbook review – it worked!) and it was lovely to make the bocconcini discovery.

The is available from the factory shop for $15. Throughout June you might find your local independent supermarket offering it as a gift with purchase in-store promotion.

Italian Sausage, Bocconcini, Thyme and Rocket Pizza

Serving Size: 1 30cm thin crust pizza

Ingredients

    Dough
  • scant 200mL warm water
  • 1 tsp dry yeast
  • 250g strong plain flour
  • salt
  • 1½ tbsp olive oil
  • Topping
  • Bocconcini - at least 3
  • 2 Italian sausages - cooked and then crumbled
  • 2 tbsp passata
  • fresh thyme
  • rocket

Instructions

  1. Please water, yeast and a sprinkle of flour in a bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer). Allow the yeast to activate and add the remainder of the flour, the salt and the olive oil and form a soft dough. Allow to prove until double in size.
  2. Preheat oven to 250C (fan) - or as hot as your oven will go.
  3. Knock back the dough, give it a light knead and then line a 30cm lightly oiled pizza tray.
  4. Spread the passata over the base and scatter over the crumbled sausage and the torn bocconcini.
  5. Cook for 10 minutes.
  6. Scatter hot pizza with thyme leaves and then top with rocket.
http://eatingadelaide.com/famiglia-la-casa-del-formaggio/

Squidgy Chocolate Torte

Chocolate cake with pomegranate seeds
Mmmm, chocolate

As I write this we are STILL eating Easter leftovers. My Saturday afternoon panic (“OMG, will we have enough food?!”) was totally unnecessary and my family well and truly pulled out the stops.

After the beef salad, my other main contribution was this chocolate torte from a BBC Easy Cook magazine dated November 2014. I bought this at Manchester airport before a flight home – my purchasing decision driven by the fact that it was the cheapest of the food magazines available (which is pathetic as English magazines are generally embarrassingly cheap) and it had James Martin on the cover.

For the past 18 or so months, it’s sat by the side of the bed and been flicked through but never used. This recipe is illustrated by said chocolate torte liberally scattered with pomegranate seeds. As my parents’ tree is going nuts, and everyone in my family likes chocolate (particularly my dad and uncle who are the most vocal about it) I figured it would be a winner.

You can find the recipe on the BBC website where it seems it was first printed in BBC’s Good Food magazine 12 months before being reused in Easy Cook!

On account of not having any light muscovado sugar to hand, I subbed in dark brown sugar but for the remaining ingredients I did as I was told. However, some of the timings in the recipe were a bit off. Beating the eggs & sugar (in a stand mixer, no less) took longer than the 5-8 minutes suggested. The cooking time was similarly optimistic and I had the cake in the oven for an hour. That may be because my spring form tin is slightly smaller than 23cm – its diameter is not marked and I’m not sufficiently bothered to find a tape measure!

There was plenty of topping so any helpers who like to lick out bowls are well served with this recipe. And being light on flour, it keeps excellently.

It’s not the quickest cake to make (beating, beating, beating) but this is definitely a cake that will be made again.

Squidgy Chocolate Torte

Ingredients

  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 250g dark chocolate
  • 5 large eggs
  • 225g light muscovado sugar - I used half and half caster sugar & dark brown sugar
  • 85g ground almonds
  • 50g plain flour
  • ganache
  • 150mL cream
  • 100g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
  • pomegranate seeds to decorate

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan). Grease a 23cm springform tin and line the base.
  2. Melt butter and chocolate. I always do this in the microwave on 30 second bursts, but you can also use a bain-marie - it will just take a bit longer!
  3. Crumble the sugars to remove any lumps (particularly important if you are using dark brown sugar) and then add to the bowl of a stand mixer along with the 5 eggs. Beat until thick, mousse-like, pale and doubled in volume. This takes a long time but once the sugar and eggs are combined you can up the speed a bit.
  4. Gently pour the melted butter and chocolate down the side of the bowl and fold in. Do this thoroughly - until the mixture is even in colour - it takes a while and it will feel like it is never going to happen but it will eventually!
  5. Sift over the almonds, flour and a ¼ tsp salt and fold in.
  6. Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake until done. The original recipe says 30-35 mins but this wasn't enough for me - I needed an hour - although I do suspect my cake tin is slightly smaller than 23cm. The cake will rise and the top will be set. As this is squidgy, a skewer inserted in the cake will come out slightly moist with some crumbs attached.
  7. Cool the cake in its tin on a rake (it may sink and/or crack).
  8. To make the ganache, bring the cream to the boil on the stove and pour over the roughly chopped chocolate and icing sugar (always make sure to sift this). Leave for 5 minutes and then stir until all the chocolate is melted. Leave to cool and thicken (I ended up putting this in the fridge) before spreading over the cake.
  9. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and serve with cream.
http://eatingadelaide.com/squidgy-chocolate-torte/